"This is a country very concerned about making things seem to happen without actually doing anything. They like to talk about progress, but that comes at a cost, and the cost is on us" — Kevin Vieritz at first Sovereignty & Land Rights Conference in Brisbane in November 2012
On 18 Dec 2012 police arrested Jagera (Yugara/Yugarapul) traditional owner on his own land for lighting the sacred fire in Musgrave Park. In the Joh Bjelke-Petersen days (1969-1989), Musgrave Park was a reserve for the purposes of sports and recreation until 1998, when a portion at the south end of the park was excised and given a different purpose – that being “for Aboriginal cultural, heritage and historical purposes”. It is on this land that Qld police arrested Kevin Vieritz – Jagera traditional owner.
Police said the traditional owner was “under arrest for breaching the peace” when he was peacefully going about custom on his own land, the deed of grant in trust to Jagera people for a cultural centre. After a half an hour in the police van, Kevin Vieritz was released. This in itself is an admission of the unlawful nature of his arrest and detention. Police issued an order that he was not permitted to walk on his land for 4 hours. In making this order police were transported to the height of absurdity and disrespect by their masters.
Musgrave Park is an extraordinary place; it is the spiritual home of many tribes; it is where the sacred fire of ancestors still burns in the Sovereign Tent Embassy that was launched again in March 2012 and survived the eviction by local, state and police authorities on May 16, 2012. In the heart of south Brisbane and West End it is the natural place for people to gather and to share.
Musgrave Park itself is (sadly) called a DOGIT lease (Deed of Grant in Trust), with Brisbane City Council being the trustees.
On May 16 2012 Coco Wharton was arrested in Musgrave Park South Brisbane with about 30 other people. They were defending the sacred fire of their ancestors. They had conducted corroboree and sung their ancestors into the fire. 250 Queensland police armed with pistols, pepper spray and tasers evicted first nation people from Musgrave Park on that day.
Jagera is a tribe of people who inhabit the region southwest of the city of Brisbane (including Musgrave Park in South Brisbane) before and after European settlement of Australia.The Jagera are alternately known as Yagara, Yuggera or Jagara. Much of their land overlaps with that of the neighbouring Turrbal tribe. Former senator Neville Bonner was a tribal elder of the Jagera people.
There is a common misunderstanding that all DOGITs are for Aboriginal people, but this is not so. Former aboriginal reserves and missions (e.g. Palm Island) which were governed under the repressive ‘Queensland Acts’ are now under DOGIT leases.
Musgrave Park itself is all a DOGIT (Deed of Grant in Trust), with Brisbane City Council being the trustee.
Musgrave was all a DOGIT reserve for the purposes of sports and recreation until 1998, when a portion at the south end of the park was excised and given a different purpose – that being “for Aboriginal cultural, heritage and historical purposes”.
Nothing was ‘handed over’, in the sense of real ownership or entitlement.
A 30 year lease was going to be signed over the site where the tennis courts are now, to allow for the building of a cultural centre, but I am not sure what happened with that lease. Of course the cultural centre never went ahead. The recipients of the lease remain unclear – under attorney general Matt Foley it was to be either Arts Qld (state government) or the management committee of Musgrave Park Cultural Centre. I suspect it went to Arts Queensland but have no proof.
This DOGIT became the subject of litigation in the Supreme Court of Qld where Turrubul people contested the granting of the lease to the Jagera people on the grounds that Turrubul people had been massacred in Musgrave Park and that this gave them a claim on the land where ancestors were buried.
[Please note that the best people to ask about various claims over land is aboriginal people themselves]
19 Dec 2012